Russia-NATO Council in Brussels

Negotiations with the United States and NATO on security guarantees, which ended the day before, became the key topic of the traditional press conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the results of the work of Russian diplomacy… It took place on January 14 in a hybrid format and lasted almost three hours. This time Sergey Lavrov did not limit himself to relations with the West alone, although in almost every answer he mentioned his American partners. About the directions in which Russia will develop its foreign policy in 2022 – in the material of “Izvestia”.

“It’s time for us to go already” – about negotiations with the West

«Our patience has run out… We are very patient. But Do you know that we harness for a long time? Here we harnessed for a very long time, it’s time for us to go. We are waiting for the driver on that cart to respond specifically to our proposals.“. With this metaphor, Sergei Lavrov answered several questions at once about the talks between Russia and the West on European security. The “Coachman on That Wagon” is the United States and the North Atlantic Alliance. Moscow expects from them next week an official response and counter-proposals “on paper”.

«Article by article, for each of our points in both documents, we want to get a reaction: it fits, it doesn’t fit, if it doesn’t fit, why. If you need to add something, formulate the amendments. If you have anything to add, give us the amendments on paper, ”said Sergei Lavrov.

Photo: Olivier Hoslet / Pool via REUTERS

The consultations of Russian and Western representatives took place from 9 to 13 January at three sites – in Geneva as part of the Russian-American dialogue on strategic stability, in Brussels on the sidelines of the NATO-Russia Council and in Vienna within the framework of the OSCE Permanent Council. Moscow has three main requirements: the non-expansion of NATO, the return of the alliance’s weapons to the 1997 positions and the non-deployment of its strike forces near the borders of the Russian Federation. The alliance categorically rejected the first two demands, declaring its readiness to discuss the third point..

Sergei Lavrov made it clear that this option does not suit Moscow. He again stressed that the Russian proposals are “not a menu, but a package.”… At the same time, the minister noted: Moscow is counting on the continuation of negotiations. If Russia receives a refusal, then its reaction can be very different. “It depends on the proposals that our military experts will make to him, the President of Russia,” summed up Sergey Lavrov.

“An additional temptation to switch to forceful methods” – about Ukraine

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that it plans to attack Ukraine… At the same time, Moscow does not deny that it has deployed troops near the border (according to Western intelligence, about 100,000 people). The states say: to prove that there is no intention to invade Ukraine, the Russian Federation can only by returning its military to the barracks.

«When we are required to send troops to the barracks on our territory, and in parallel, the Americans, Canadians, and the British on a permanent basis practically settled down under the guise of rotation (the rotation is so conditional) both in the Baltics and in other countries of northern Europe, when bases are being created both on the Black Sea and in Ukraine, the British are creating bases – they are building a base on the Sea of ​​Azov – it categorically cannot suit us“- Sergei Lavrov reacted to this.

When reporting on the movement of Russian troops, no one pays attention to the concentration of Ukrainian troops, “moreover, near the line of contact”; Moreover, “whatever the West is doing in terms of pumping this [украинской] power with weapons, creates an additional temptation for her to switch to forceful methods of resolving issues in eastern Ukraine“, Stressed the minister. At the same time, he said, Russia expects that “in the next two to three months” the alliance will be more active at the Russian borders.

«If our offer [по гарантиям] is aimed at reducing the military confrontation, de-escalating the general situation in Europe, then in the West exactly the opposite is happening, – said Sergey Lavrov. “NATO members are building up their ground forces, aviation in the territories directly adjacent to Ukraine, the scale and number of exercises in the Black Sea have increased many times over lately.”

“Thank God, it didn’t come to war” – about the presence of the CSTO in Kazakhstan

On January 13, the withdrawal of CSTO peacekeepers from Kazakhstan began – the mission, in which units from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan participated, began to leave the country a week after entering there. This was the first CSTO peacekeeping operation, and, according to Sergei Lavrov, her efforts “were very, very effective and turned out to be very, very popular.”.

– You know what they say: if you want peace, prepare for war. But, thank God, it didn’t come to war, ”the minister said.

A serviceman from the Russian contingent of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) peacekeeping force, guarding the territory of TPP-3 in Alma-Ata

Photo: RIA Novosti / Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

In his opinion, “The speed of deployment of the CSTO units” was, of course, appreciated by everyone at its true worth, “and the West was completely surprised by it.”.

“I hope that this experience will no longer have to be applied, but we must keep the powder dry – God forbid, something the same will happen. Although we are doing everything necessary to prevent this, ”stressed Sergei Lavrov, noting: Moscow is witnessing more and more attempts to “undermine the situation” in Central Asia – they “have become much more stubborn” just after the US left Afghanistan in August 2021.

“New proposals have appeared” – on mediation between Yerevan and Baku

Journalists from Armenia and Azerbaijan asked the minister one after another – Russia acts as a mediator between these countries when it comes to resolving the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh… However, her participation is not limited to this: in November 2021, at the trilateral talks in Sochi, the leaders of states agreed not only to monitor security on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, but to create a bilateral commission whose task is to delimit (determine its general direction and position) borders and its subsequent demarcation (draw a dividing line).

«Just yesterday I talked with my Armenian colleague, who has new proposals, we are passing them on to Baku. We will see how to make it (commission) work as early as possible“, – said Sergei Lavrov, stressing that it would be important to include issues of primary importance in the commission’s agenda; the conditions under which this body will be created are currently being discussed.

Mediation functions lie with Russia and in the contacts of Armenia with Turkey, which, despite the common border, do not have diplomatic relations.… In 2021, Yerevan and Ankara appointed their special envoys for such a dialogue. According to Sergei Lavrov, Moscow helped them in this. “We are very pleased that today the first meeting is taking place in Moscow. Our role is to help establish a direct dialogue, I hope it will be successful, ”the minister summed up.

Establish a “partnership of a new quality” – about relations with Japan

Another area that Russia intends to pay attention to in 2022 is Japan.… According to the minister, Moscow is in favor of developing its relations with Tokyo, despite long-standing disagreements over the Kuril Islands.

At the same time, the position of Japan on this issue in the Russian Federation is regarded as non-recognition of the results of the Second World War. “This is also the moment that is holding us back so far,” the diplomat admitted. Another point that strains Moscow is the old alliance with Washington.

View of Hokkaido Island in winter from Kunashir Island

Photo: RIA Novosti

«Now, when the United States has declared us in its doctrinal documents almost enemies, of course, Japan’s stay in an alliance with a country that considers us a threat does not quite, probably, correspond to creating an optimal atmosphere for the development of our relations“, – said Sergei Lavrov, pointing out the similarity of Tokyo’s positions with those of the West in international organizations. Japan should decide here if it wants to become close partners with Russia.

The parties will be able to discuss the establishment of a “partnership of a new quality” in the near future – Sergey Lavrov plans to make a visit to this country in the next two to three months.

“Conduct an inventory” – about ties with Iran

In 2022, Russia will strengthen cooperation with the new leadership of Iran… During the visit of the new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to the Russian Federation, Russian leader Vladimir Putin intends to conduct an “inventory” of the bilateral agenda.

“We also have questions related to international politics: this is the SPVD (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian Nuclear Program. – Izvestia), this is the overall situation in the Persian Gulf, this is our joint work in the UN and in others. international organizations, including, in particular, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, ”said Sergei Lavrov.

Negotiations on the restoration of the Iranian nuclear deal are now continuing in Vienna, and according to the Russian minister, there is “real progress” here, but “quiet diplomacy” is needed here for a result.

As for the situation in the region, then Moscow proposes to hold a conference on security in the Persian Gulf. “All countries of the region and non-regional countries have a lot of claims to each other: Iran also has to its Arab neighbors, its Arab neighbors – to Iran, the West, the United States and European countries also have some questions regarding what Iran is doing, ”the minister said, noting that such a forum could unite Iranians and Arabs …

“A very effective structure” – about friendship with India and China

Moscow intends to further strengthen relations with New Delhi and Beijing in 2022 – the status of their relationship is defined as “especially privileged strategic partnership” and “all-encompassing partnership and strategic interaction entering a new era”, respectively.

Flags of Russia and China

Photo: TASS / Mikhail Tereshchenko

The Russian Federation pays special attention to the Russia-India-China (RIC) format. Though relations between New Delhi and Beijing are almost hostile, Moscow supports this platform – it can help countries “build confidence”… “The RIC is a very effective structure, the foreign ministers have met almost 20 times during the existence of the RIC,” said Sergei Lavrov.

At the end of last year, Vladimir Putin made his first foreign visit to New Delhi for the first time since the pandemic. In the near future, he will visit Beijing – on February 4, on the opening day of the Winter Olympic Games, where he will hold talks with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

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